Nutrition

Bryan Johnson’s Anti-Aging Diet: Is It Healthy?

According to an R.D., the tech mogul's diet is generally healthy, but there are a few things to look out for.

In an effort to reverse his biological age to 18, 46-year-old tech zillionaire Bryan Johnson has employed some controversial methods. Highlights of his strict health regimen—which he calls Blueprint—include using shockwave therapy to “rejuvenate” his penis, collecting stool samples, taking 111 supplements a day (up from 27 a day), and swapping blood with his 17-year-old son

Johnson starts everyday with a juice concoction he calls the “Green Giant.” It’s packed with goodies like spermidine, creatine, and collagen peptides. His breakfast, a blended meal of steamed vegetables, lentils, and a splash of Blueprint’s $75 olive oil, has been likened to “mush the color of a sea lion.” In fact, the majority of Johnson’s meals are plant-based, blended, and exactly the same, every day.

Despite the general mushiness, Johnson’s “joy of food is now greater than ever,” per a tweet. Critics wonder: Is a slightly longer life worth living without ice cream? “I no longer have arousal from eating junk food,” Johnson told Insider. “People think that a cheat day for me, like the reward would be eating pizza and donuts. It makes me nauseous to even think about.” 

So, is Johnson’s diet the secret to turning down your next late-night Taco Bell Mexican pizza craving? And more importantly, is it even healthy? We tapped registered dietitian Imashi Fernando, MS, RD, CDCES to find out.


About the Expert:

Imashi Fernando works in a large hospital system as a clinical dietitian and provides one-on-one nutrition counseling through her virtual private practice, Brown Sugar Nutrition PLLC. She holds a master’s degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Washington.


MORE JOHNSON

What Is Bryan Johnson’s Diet?

Johnson follows a plant-based diet made up of a daily green juice, three specific meals, dark chocolate or avocado, and olive oil—totalling 2,250 calories. The details including recipes, calories, and more are posted on the Blueprint website, in a free, downloadable PDF called the Don’t Die Recipe Guide by Zero. Here’s how it shakes out:

“Green Giant”

“Green Giant”

Upon waking, Johnson whips up a batch of his infamous green juice, which he takes with his morning pills.

Ingredients

  • 20 oz water
  • 2 tbsp chlorella powder (yielding 13.5 mg spermidine)
  • 7.6g amino acid complex (lemon)
  • 2.5g creatine
  • 20g collagen peptides
  • 500mg cocoa flavanols
  • 1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
First Meal: "Super Veggie"

First Meal: "Super Veggie"

After his daily workout, Johnson powers down his first meal of the day: “Super Veggie.”

Ingredients

  • 45g dry black lentils
  • 250g broccoli
  • 150g cauliflower
  • 50g shiitake or maitake mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 ginger roots
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

Weigh and boil or steam the veggies, and cook the lentils according to the package. Then, blend both veggies and lentils with garlic, ginger, lime, cumin, and apple cider vinegar, or serve whole. Top with hemp seeds and olive oil.

Second meal: “Nutty Pudding”

Second meal: “Nutty Pudding”

Johnson’s second meal of the day is called “Nutty Pudding.”

Ingredients

  • 50 to 100 ml macadamia nut milk
  • 3 tbsp ground macadamia nuts
  • 2 tsp ground walnuts
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseeds
  • ¼ brazil nut
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp sunflower lecithin
  • ½ tsp ceylon cinnamon
  • ½ cup berries
  • 3 cherries
  • 2 oz pomegranate juice

Instructions

Add all ingredients (saving half the berries for topping) to a blender. Optional: add 30 to 60 grams of protein powder (Johnson opts for pea protein).

Third meal

Johnson’s dinner—which, again, he eats by 11 a.m.—varies daily. He shares 10 different plant-forward options in his recipe guide, all of which conveniently total 500 calories and look refreshing and flavorful. He also clarifies: “My diet is vegan by choice, not by necessity. Feel free to add meat to any dish.”

Meals Bryan Johnson eats
All of the third meals on the Blueprint diet plan feature plant-based, whole foods, and actually look pretty tasty.

Options

Along with his third meal, Johnson finishes off the majority of his supplement stack, save melatonin which he takes right before he heads to bed.

Dark chocolate or avocado

Johnson allows himself a little indulgence each day, which comes in the form of either one tablespoon of dark chocolate or one avocado—which amount to roughly 130 calories each. He has opinions on what type of chocolate qualifies as healthy, which he ranks on a five level scale:

To be clear, Blueprint is level five only. Per Johnson, Santa Barbara Chocolate qualifies.

Extra virgin olive oil

Last but not least, Johnson gets 30 ml of extra virgin olive oil daily. Unsurprisingly, he has lofty criteria:

Which according to his website, has only been confirmed in his Blueprint extra virgin olive oil

BILLIONAIRE HEALTH HABITS

What’s Good About Bryan Johnson’s Diet?

The protocol is very clearly outlined on the Blueprint website, so if you want to follow along you can. Here are some of the perks of eating like Johnson.

Relatively balanced

Based on the nutrient analysis shared on the blueprint protocol website, the overall macronutrient distribution is 33 percent carbs, 19 percent protein, and 4 percent fat. “While this does not meet the definition of “balanced” per the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans (40 to 65 percent carbs, 10 to 25 percent protein, 20 to 35 percent fat), it comes pretty close,” says Fernando. “This diet emphasizes more healthy fats over carbs but doesn’t overdo the fats (like a keto diet which is typically 65 to 90 percent fat) or overly restrict carbs (low carb is less than 26 percent).”

Nutrient- and flavor-dense

Fernando likes that all of Johnson’s recipes avoid salt, added sugar, and refined grains. “The meals emphasize a variety of whole foods like different veggies, legumes, and nuts,” says Fernando. She’s also a fan of the use of aromatics, spices, herbs, and citrus which capitalize on flavor. “These taste enhancers are packed with antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds,” she adds.

Vegan by choice, not necessity

Johnson grants the option to add meat to any of his recipes. “I would encourage the addition of lean protein (chicken, ground turkey, egg), fatty fish (salmon, tuna), and shellfish,” she says. “As for red meat, focus on high quality meat that is grass fed, and leaner cuts like venison.” The addition of animal protein will allow you to eliminate the pea protein powder, EPA, and B12 from your supplement stack, per Fernando.

Not extreme with calories

Johnson has gone through several waves of calorie restriction. At one point he was down to 1,977 calories a day. His current intake sits at a more comfortable 2,250 calories. “I appreciate that Bryan’s aiming for a 10 percent calorie restriction, which isn’t overly restrictive,” says Fernando. However, it’s important to note the recipes are designed with Johnson’s caloric needs (and goals) in mind, your calorie needs should be based on your height, weight, age, and physical activity levels.

Predictable

Keeping the first few meals of the day makes grocery shopping and meal prepping simple. “Planning to eat the same first and/or second meal can help you get into a routine, save time, and make your day more predictable so you’re less likely to end up in a fast food drive thru,” says Fernando. She likes that the repeated meals in the plan (“Super Veggie” and “Nutty Pudding”) are nutritionally balanced, which is important when you’re relying on a meal to deliver nutrition day after day.

Fernando also recommends leaning into the variety component of the third meal. “If you eat the same thing at the first few meals of the day, it’s important that your other meals consist of different veggies and proteins to add variety,” she adds. Several studies have shown that more variety in your diet can help with weight loss and improve overall health (1, 2, 3).

LIVE LONGER

What’s Not So Good About Bryan Johnson’s Diet?

There are some downsides to Johnson’s diet. Namely, Blueprint is a one participant study, it’s not peer-reviewed, so there’s no firm  evidence that it can reverse your age. Here are some other snags you might run into.

Expensive

The monthly cost including the diet and supplements is $1684.50. But Fernando suggests some ways to make it cheaper. “It’s okay to buy the best extra virgin olive oil and dark chocolate that you can afford,” says Fernando. She likes California Ranch extra virgin olive oil ($14) and Ghirardelli Intense Dark chocolate ($23) which is free of heavy metals.

Fernando also suggests cutting the supplements. “I worry that many of these supplements may interact with each other and be detrimental to health,” she warns. “Always consult with your doctor before starting herbal supplements, especially if you are on prescription medication.”

Restrictive

On the Blueprint website, Johnson dives into what he calls “rascal” behaviors—the self-destructive behaviors we do “even when we know they shorten our life, accelerate disease and aging, cloud our judgment, and make us feel miserable.” Johnson uses his late night eating habit as an example. His solution: “revoking 7pm Bryan’s authority to eat food.”

Since they fall into Johnson’s “rascal” category, the diet leaves no room for the occasional brunch with friends, or family dinner. “I worry that this level of micromanagement of your diet could trigger disordered eating behaviors and social isolation,” says Fernando. “An occasional slice of pizza and cake at a party is not a bad thing.”

Unsustainable

Blueprint is much more than just a diet. The Blueprint lifestyle requires the funds, access to tech, and the discipline to commit. “Being unable to stick to this kind of routine does not make you a failure—you’re basically set up to fail unless you’re in a comparable position in life to Bryan Johnson and have access to all the resources available to him,” explains Fernando.

Is Bryan Johnson’s Diet Healthy?

In a vacuum, yes. Johnson’s Blueprint diet features balanced macros, plant-forward recipes that emphasize whole foods, and a modest calorie intake. That said, if you follow the diet exactly to Johnson’s specifications, it’s expensive, difficult to stick to, and may be too restrictive (especially if you subscribe to his ideology of silencing your “rascal” mind).

“You can walk away from the guide with great whole food recipes and incorporate them into your own routine,” says Fernando. As for the mountainous supplement stack and intense Blueprint lifestyle, she recommends exercising caution.

What to Know Before Trying Bryan Johnson’s Diet

Itching to give Blueprint a shot? Fernando has advice: “Go slow. Incorporate one meal into your lifestyle at a time.” Why? Johnson eats 70 plus pounds of veggies a month, plus fiber from legumes and nuts. That’s a lot of fiber. “Jumping in with both feet may lead to some severe GI distress,” explains Fernando. “Stay hydrated, and work with a dietitian to figure out how you can best implement this diet, especially if you have pre-existing GI issues like IBS.”

References